As I write this, sipping cappuccino at Cappuccino in Berlin, I can’t seem to remember the last two weeks. Everything is back to normal and I am loving every bit of our time in Berlin. Weather has been exceptionally kind. Coffee has been good. Food is cheap. Buildings go higher than four floors and I involuntarily eavesdrop on conversations in English on streets. Life is good.
But for documentation and education’s sake, I will revisit my two-week long journey to relocate from Cologne to Berlin. Things I do for you folk(ses).
So, my dear readers, let’s take it from the top. This shall serve as a guide for anyone who plans to move from one to another, within Germany. Also throwing in lessons learnt the hard way, so you don’t have to.
The very first thing you need to do is find an apartment. As we were in Cologne, we had to get a place based on its pictures online. Our options for booking portals were Airbnb, Wunderflats and Homelike. We wanted a furnished place, for three months, within 1200€. I did a post to compare all three sites and why we chose Homelike. You can read it here if you like.
We had fully furnished our apartment in Cologne, and were now moving to an already-furnished place. So, our second task (and possibly yours too) was to find a storage space. We compared prices through Idealo and chose MyPlace Self Storage. It can be accessed 7 days a week, from 6-22. What you should do differently than us is make sure you understand how big the space is before booking a unit (all these squares and cubes are so confusing), and make sure it has enough space for all your stuff.
Step three – moving services. I got quotes from over 10 moving companies, and the lowest was 1350€. I continued searching until I came across App a Van. They sent me a quote for 700€. I wanted to sign up pronto, but I was susceptive. Why is it so low? Why are there no reviews online? Where exactly is this company from (England?). I had many questions, but also limited budget. So, I crossed my fingers, added an additional helper to the mix for loading in Cologne, paid 900€ and hoped for the best.
In retrospect, it was probably one of the best decisions that we made during this move. It would have been impossible for us to move items like fridge and washing machine, which weighed 1000kgs if you ask me, on our own. My maximum weight lifting capacity extends to 15kgs, for 34 seconds. Our mover, a Polish rockstar, was so helpful and managed to pack everything in our storage unit. It was a challenge and then some, and if anyone could do it, it was him.
What you can, and should do, differently is also take packing services. If you are concerned about letting an absolute stranger get into your lingerie drawer (which they can’t be anymore excited about than I am about the prospect of having bitter gourd for lunch), then just ask for help with furniture and fittings. Dismantling kitchen, bedroom and lounge, bubble wrapping every fragile item, loading up shoes and clothes, packing up cellar and making sure your old items find new homes, can be extremely time-consuming, and if you ask for the packing service in conjunction with moving, it won’t be too expensive either I assume.
It was during these last two weeks that we renewed our relationship with Bauhaus. It was our go to place for all things packing – boxes, bubble wrap, tape, cutter, ropes, packing paper, escape from the packing routine, coffee break and fresh air. Whatever you need for packing your house, you will find it here. We already had all sorts of tools (from when we were setting up the house), but if you need 20 different types of screwdriver heads, stepladder or needle nose plier, you will find it here. We spent circa 300€ on supplies.
Another thing that I am glad we did was host our friends a week before we were to move. Any later than that and we would have been extremely stressed. So, a good time to host a farewell party is two weeks before you are actually moving.
What I wish I knew sooner (I mean I knew already but I wish I were more convinced of the truth) is that IKEA furniture does not travel well. It is better to sell anything that is worth less than 200€ (if not 300€). When you move, you lose money. There is literally no way you can avoid that. To minimise the damage, I have a plan – if I am renting again, I will look for at least partially furnished apartment. It should have kitchen and bathroom fully installed. Also, if anyone offers help, I will take it. Some of our friends were kind enough to extend a helping hand, but we felt like it’d be imposing and politely declined. Next time, I will take them on. When spread across seven people, workload that is overwhelming becomes manageable.
And this is how our moving journey from Cologne to Berlin came to an end. I have been here three days and already am in love with this vibrant, cosmopolitan and colourful city. Let’s raise our cups of chai to cheer new beginnings.